Friday, April 30, 2010

Thursday night crit

We're lucky to have a huge cycling contingent in our back yard. The Lehigh Valley is an attractive area to cyclists because there are great roads, relatively low traffic, some great climbing and of course the Valley Preferred Cycling Center which has played host to many US and international championships and produced some incredible cyclists. Right across the street and also on County owned property is the Rodale Fitness Park which has a one mile paved rolling course. There is a weekly training crit held there every Thursday night, 15 lap early race and 30 lap late race in which sprint points are offered on every 3rd lap. The races run from April through October and are very well attended. In fact, Bill Strickland the editor of Bicycling Magazine wrote a book centered around his goal of earning points on Thursday nights!

Having lived within 15 minutes of this event for several years, I've always "talked" about trying it out. Well being that I'm behind on my bike training this year I decided it would be a great way to get a higher intensity workout in and heck it may even be fun! The stars aligned yesterday with decent weather (60's and WINDY) and my friend's wife who offered to watch the kids while I raced. Now aside from multisport events and cyclocross (off road) this was my first "real" road race, so I didn't really know what to expect other than all of the "do this, don't do that's" that I've heard over the years. Needless to say it was a blast. Went out a little too hard and paid the price, but had one great sprint and got a good workout in. The kids had a blast. I thought Joshua would love to see 40 bikes come rolling by, but he soon saw the large sand pit they had and all the toys and kids there and, well, "what bikes"? I'll be back for sure.

Monday, April 26, 2010

While mommy and daddy are away....

The kids go to the zoo!!

Lauren went to a ladies retreat this weekend and I had to tend to my duties at the expo for the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon, so it worked out well that my dad wanted to take the kids to the zoo! It was an incredible day and they were so excited. The Lehigh Valley Zoo isn't all that large, but it's perfect for four cousins under the age of 7 (well one just turned 8)!! They got dressed up in matching shirts and had a blast. Joshua's favorite part?? The Deere, John Deere that is...apparently he spotted one behind a fence that was doing some work and wanted Pops to stop and watch it with him!

The expo went well. The race is organized by the Lehigh Valley Road Runners and is a completely volunteer performed half marathon and 5k that sells out the field of 4,000 participants in weeks! I've been involved with the expo committee for a number of years now and for the last few years I've organized the Pace Teams. We offered 9 different goal times ranging from 1:30(6:53 pace) to 2:30(11:47 pace) and typically we have 400-500 people who participate. On Saturday we had a booth which was manned by our pacers to answer questions and provide information for the participants and it was booming all day, then in the afternoon we offered a seminar on the pace groups which was led by the pace team leaders. I set to pace the 1:40 group, this would be my 5th year as a pacer. It is a great local race, drawing people from 30 different states...the only bummer was the weather prediction...a wash out.

That didn't stop us though, we gathered in the gymnasium and assembled our groups early on Sunday. We were greeted to a steady light rain as we moved out to the start line, and with temperatures in the upper 40's it was cool, but great running weather. As we clicked the first few miles off the rain slowed. The miles were going by nice and steady and it was great to pass the other groups as we negotiated the out and back section. My group was great, got to meet some new people and hear some great stories. As we hit mile 9 or so the group got quiet and got do work. It was great to see some of them feeling good and pulling away from me as they beat their goals and it's also very rewarding to be able to "pick up" runners that are struggling in the final miles and get them back on pace. My brother was doing his first half marathon and stayed with the group for the first 9 miles and then pulled ahead to finish over a minute in front of me! I crossed the line in 1:39:51, mission accomplished.

My favorite part of pacing is seeing everyone that was in your group after we cross the finish line...everyone is excited about their race, their PR and their new goals! We're lucky to have such a great event in our back yard that raises money to enhance youth running in our area. We're also lucky to have so many motivated people organizing the race, volunteering and coming out to run and support the race annually. If you ever get the opportunity, this is one race to put on the calendar!

The excitement is building for my Trakkers teammates as the countdown to the first Rev3 race of the year is ticking down. It's been great corresponding with 40 diverse people across the they overcome the same struggles, how they train and what their goals are. It been great hearing their race reports so far this year and I can't wait to meet them in June at Rev3 Quassy. Now I need to get myself motivated and get on the bike and in the pool! Anyone want to swim 1.2 miles for me on 6/5/10?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Beantown 2010

Well, after stopping the streak at 5 and skipping the 2009 Boston marathon, I was back for Boston Marathon #6 in 2010. This year Lauren ran it as well, it was her 2nd Boston and she really hoped #2 could be as incredible as #1 and it delivered!

We again traveled up with the group that I run with called "The Big 4". It was the 10th anniversary of their annual trip in which they charter a bus and stay at a hotel outside of Boston. We left Saturday AM (a BIG thanks to Mom and Jim and Carolyn and Mike for watching the kids) and we hit the expo in Boston by 3:00 or so. The expo at Boston is always a madhouse but it's one of those things you just HAVE to check out every square foot of. We got our numbers and made the rounds, grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to the bus to check in at the hotel, an incredible Double Tree Inn & Suites. Sunday morning a large group of us visited Calvary Chapel for an awesome service and then we kicked back and relaxed all day. Saturday night we had reservations for 50 at Bertucci's and we had a great pasta meal.

Monday AM we departed at 6:30 to head to Hopkinton. We're blessed to have a friend of a friend that actually lives in Hopkinton and is gracious enough to let us crash his place while we sitting around in a wet field at Athletes Village! It was awesome, they're incredible people. Got my pre-race oatmeal and chatted with everyone while I got geared up physically and mentally for the race. I hadn't trained nearly as hard as I had in the past, but I put a good solid training effort in and was feeling that I was gaining fitness as training I was injury free after 900 miles of training from January 1 2010 to April 18, 2010. I decided not to set a goal time, but just to go out by feel and run my own race. The weather was great, low 40's at the start and low 50's at the finish, only down side was a stiff cross wind. Started out in shorts, singlet, visor, arm warmers and cotton gloves. By mile 15 I was heating up and tossed the arm warmers to our cheering section at mile 17. My splits were super consistent as I got going and I was working a little harder than I wanted but I decided to go with it. The first 10 miles I was getting passed like I had bricks on my feet!! It was a good mental struggle though, because around mile 12 or 13 things started to change. People started to slow down and come back to me. What an incredible feeling in a race....between the big SMILE I was wearing as the people cheered me on and catching all these people it just lifted you up. As I hit half way, I saw my split and realized I was on pace for 2:46 or so. I ran great through the hills, but was starting to feel some muscle pain as I went down the back side of Heartbreak Hill. I had a Trakkers teamie spotting at mile 23 (Thanks Jamie, it was nice to "meet" you there) which gave me the boost I needed to get to mile 25 and gut the last mile out. Crossed the finish line in 2:47:01 for a new personal record and nearly 9 minutes faster than I've ever run that course!

Turned out that Lauren had a GREAT day as well. She wasn't confident in her training, but I'd never bet against her in a long race like this, she was again the model of consistency and actually ran the 2nd half (hillier half) 1:30 faster than the first!! She didn't train as hard as I've seen her train before, but still crushed it.....about 13 minutes faster than her first attempt there in 2006.

Group shot in Hopkinton before the race:

Lauren and I at the expo after we picked our numbers up:

I'm an engineer, so I like to look at numbers. Here's how my race broke down....

Chris Garges, bib 1481

5K SplitsDeviation





1:22:40Half split





2:47:01Finish time1:24:212nd half

0:01:41Split (positive)

0:19:46AVG 5k time

In other news, a couple of weeks ago the Trakkers Pro tri team and the K-Swiss/Trek Pro tri team challenged each other at Rev3 Knoxville. It comes down to this: $5,000 to the best team performance in the Olympic race on May 9th. It's gotten some good press and brought a whole new level of fun and competition to triathlon. Tonight K-Swiss/Trek teammates will be discussing the challenge live, check it out HERE One of the K-Swiss/Trek team members is Andrew Yoder, a local PA kid (19 years old) that has really kicked some butt in his limited time as a profession, besting many top pros on the bike and holding his own on the run.

So then Trakkers and Saucony decide to further up the ante and offer $500 in Saucony gift certificates for an age group challenge between Team Trakkers, Dynamo Multisport and Terrier Tri who are the largest groups which are signed up to race. Top 3 men, Top 3 ladies add up the times, low net wins. I won't be in Knoxville, but I'm excited to see what they come up with for Quassy in June!

Next up is the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon which I'll be pacing the 1:40 group (if I can walk by then, no wait I need to be able to run by then)!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

First multisport race of the year.....

Saturday was the first multisport race of the year, the Doylestown Du (5k run / 21.5 bike / 5k run). Probably not the smartest thing to do while tapering and 8 days away from Boston, but isn't there some rule that you have to do a race that is within 15 minutes driving from your house?? Leading up the race I was certainly lacking time on the bike, so I wanted to have two good runs and see where my bike split fell. Well, the weather was better than last year (42 deg and driving rain) with temps again in the low 40's and a biting 15-20mph wind. The wind wasn't too bad on the run, but the bike was pretty nasty, most of the course was a cross wind....not too good for my 52mm Cosmic Carbones. Anyway, the race was the Mid Atlantic Regional Duathlon Championship with nearly 400 entries and some serious competition. There was an elite wave, then our wave started. This was my first race in 35-39 age group. First run went well, someone on my heels drafting for the first mile, I was throwing surges in and could hear his breathing getting more labored. After the turn around he finally cracked, came into the transition area first with a 16:28, had a good transition, then it happened. I hadn't contemplated how I was going to get on the bike other than that I was gonna put my shoes on in transition. I had done a brick or two in the basement but no real mounts. Well, cyclocross racing carried over into triathlon because before I knew it I was doing a 'cross mount, going from a run and leaping onto the bike, into the pedals and off!! It was AWESOME, and captured on film! Check out the people watching....

Had a decent bike, managed to catch one guy from the elite wave then fought with the wind on basically a solo effort. I found myself holding back on the bike which I guess was smart in the grand scheme of things, but probably had something to do with the fact that I was riding solo. I did get passed with a couple of miles to go, then I got "the spark" and worked to keep him in toe for a 58:34, 21.8mph. I had another great transition and came out of T2 leading the amateurs.

Run 2 was pretty uneventful and I ran by myself most of the way. I finally warmed up enough to take my hat and gloves off. I put some time on a couple of the elites, but finished alone in 1:33 after a 17:41 final 5k. I was 7th overall, 1st amateur and 1st in my age group out of about 350 finishers. My bike wasn't where I wanted it to be, but considering my training thus far I'll take it.

My brother raced as well, it was only his 3rd du and by far the longest bike split he's raced. He really has been working his butt off and it showed, 37th overall and the 25th fastest bike split! I expect more improvement as the year progresses.

So, a great run tune up for Boston, my legs are feeling good and ready and the weather is looking great (probably high 40's, low 50's for the entire race!). I'm bib 1481 and Lauren is 7216 so be sure to check us out on race day! We leave on Saturday.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Don't Taper, Peak!

The countdown to Boston is at 10 days! I read an awesome article a couple of years ago written for Running Times by Greg McMillan. I used to get crazy during the taper, taking the traditional three week taper and worrying about EVERYTHING, every little pain I felt, everything I ate, how many miles I ran and exactly how fast I ran them. After reading this article (I have a great deal of respect for Greg and his teaching) I decided to give it a go. I had a great race, but as we all know there are a million factors that could have contributed to that. But I did learn something, that you don't HAVE to TAPER, but you can PEAK. It's an awesome way to look the last few weeks, both physically and mentally. Hopefully that carries into Boston and all goes well!

Easter weekend was just incredible. God dished out some of the most incredible weather we've ever seen for this time of year...and since I had Friday and Monday off I got to enjoy it to the fullest! Friday I took the kids down to Dad's and they had a blast playing with their cousins, Ace the dog and riding their bikes...while I split firewood. Fun days like that are what I remember as the "glory days" of childhood, that's what kids are supposed to do, be outside, be active, explore and have fun! Saturday early AM I got my last 20 mile run in before Boston, then juggled cleaning the house and watching four children...three of them 3 or younger (we were watching our wonderful nieces). They got a long very well and actually allowed me to dust, vacuum and clean the wood / tile floors!! Saturday PM we had Lauren's family over for Easter dinner (14 people total, wow)! Sunday we had a great morning watching the kids find the eggs and go through their baskets...then off to church and brunch at Mom's. Again the kids spent the ENTIRE afternoon outside riding bikes, running and playing. It was AWESOME!

Monday we did some car shopping to replace Lauren's car. We had two test drives which were interesting with the kids, but they did awesome. We finally decided overwhelmingly on the Subaru Outback Limited It's coming off the assembly line and we may have it before we leave for Boston!!

Tuesday night Jer and I got together at Chick Filet....Tuesday night is family MORE FUN for the kids! They got to high five the Cow and got their faces painted!!

Autumn was very serious...

The one below cracks me up. Adi and Joshua are having fun and being silly, but check out the picture on the kids meal bag.

Autumn and Adi..

Got a sweet package from Trakkers last week. Thanks to Saucony for the sweet gear! We will be styling out there this year. Getting excited for REV3 Quassy and REV3 Cedar Point!! Also, just dove into my Cappuccino flavored Ultragen recovery drink, that stuff is awesome. You've gotta check it out....tastes to good to be true! I firmly believe that it has kept me injury free through this Boston training cycle...850 running miles since January 1.